The second film in our programme won Best British Independent Film at the British Independent Film Awards this year, as well as awards for its Casting and actors. It is another film with a largely non-professional cast. It is Director Sarah Gavron’s third film, after Brick Lane and Suffragette, and was judged to be the 6th best film of 2020 by the Guardian who described it as ‘a terrific British feature about kids at secondary school that wears its multiculturalism on its sleeve. Bukky Bakray gives a tremendous performance as a teenager (nicknamed ‘Rocks’) who has to look after her brother Emmanuel when her single mother finds herself increasingly unable to’.
Rocks has all of the responsibility now but none of the power, and has to keep everything a deadly secret if she and Emmanuel are not to be taken into care. So Rocks and Emmanuel effectively go on the run together, with Rocks making a gargantuan effort to look after him, effectively outside the law. Yet the real power and inspiration of the film come when nothing particularly is happening, and Rocks and her friends are just hanging out. Occasionally, these scenes will erupt into something dramatic, such as when a food fight kicks off in the middle of a home economics class or when a teacher is talked back to. The film is bursting with vitality, creativity, passion and fun, and the young stars supercharge it with energy.
There is something deeply sad and mysterious about this film. Rocks is a courageous young heroine who did everything she could, everything that was asked of her – and inevitably it was not enough. Rocks is shown in the film’s final section having accepted what has happened in her life, and that what she was trying to achieve after her mum left – insofar as she formulated that thought at all – was not viable. And yet she has survived, and that fact, together with her extreme youth, is extremely moving.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall